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How-Tuesday: Upcycled Apron

Feb 23, 2010

by Julie Schneider

Loosen your apron strings and buckle down for the latest edition of How-Tuesday! This week’s project comes to us by way of Amelia Strader, assistant buyer, museum store associate, and the queen of all things crafty at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco, CA. Amelia is a crocheting superstar and a driving force behind hands-on crafting events, including Craft Bar, at the museum. Read on for tips for making your own apron out of 100% recycled household cast-offs.

This apron design was inspired by a cute apron that my grandmother handmade in the 1950s. As my spin on her apron, I’ve incorporated recycled and upcycled materials. This pattern involves three main stages: fusing plastic bags, creating a plastic ball of yarn, and crocheting borders on the apron with the plastic yarn.

On Thursday, March 4, 2010 at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art, we will be hosting another Craft Bar with Etsy Labs @ MOCFA, a free event cosponsored by Etsy. This month’s hands-on project at Craft Bar will feature a crochet project using yarn created from recycled plastic bags, similar to this week’s How-Tuesday project. More details can be found here.

Now let’s get started!

Size:
One size fits all

Finished Measurements:
Length: 17″ approximately
Width: 24″ approximately
Ties: 21″ approximately

Materials
15 – 20 large plastic bags in white for main color (MC)
10 – 15 large plastic bags in blue for contrasting color (CC)
US K – 10.5 (6.50 mm) crochet hook
3/16” hole punch
Roll of parchment paper
Brown paper grocery bag
Iron and ironing board
Ruler
Stitch markers
Yarn needle

 

Instructions:

Fusing Plastic Bags

1. To create the apron skirt, fuse together three layers of plastic bags in MC. To protect your ironing board, cover with a large sheet of parchment paper. Smooth out plastic bags and place on top of each other. Place them on the ironing board and cover with another sheet of parchment paper. Arrange plastic bags so that you create a 13”L x 18”W rectangle.

Set the iron on cotton/linen setting with steam. Slowly move iron over all the layers using steam. Be sure to keep the iron constantly moving and never touch iron directly to the plastic bags. Let the plastic cool and check to see if the layers are fused together. If the layers are not completely fused, reposition parchment paper and go over it with the iron again. Flip plastic over and iron on the opposite side. It takes at least a couple of rounds of ironing on each side for the plastic bags to be completely fused. The plastic bags will shrink a little as you iron them. This is not an exact science, so it is a good idea to test your iron settings on some extra plastic bags. An odor is emitted when ironing the plastic bags, so be sure to work in a well ventilated area.

(More tips on fusing plastic bags can be found here, in Etsy’s video tutorial.)

2. Draw out the apron skirt pattern onto stiff paper or brown paper grocery bag (see technical sketch above for pattern measurements). Don’t worry about sketching out the pattern perfectly.

 

3. Fold the plastic sheet in half width-wise. Place the pattern on the plastic sheet, making sure to line up the front of the pattern with the folded edge of the plastic. Trace the apron skirt pattern onto the fused plastic sheet with a pen. Cut the apron out with scissors.

4. Punch holes around all sides of the apron skirt. Leave ¼” space between holes and ¼” from center of hole to edge of plastic. Don’t worry about having the same number of punch holes on both sides of the apron.

Creating Plastic Yarn (or “Plarn”)

Use the remaining plastic bags in MC to create a ball of plastic yarn. Fold the plastic bag lengthwise to form a narrow tube. Cut off the top handles and bottom edge of plastic bag. Cut up the rest of the plastic bag into 1” wide segments.

These segments will be loops when unfolded. Loop the loops together to form a continuous chain, and wind into ball. Create a second ball of plastic yarn in CC.

 

 

Crocheting

Note: Keep your stitches loose. Using the plastic yarn, crochet the borders on both sides of the apron first, then crochet waistband, and lastly, the crochet bottom hem.

Apron Sides (Repeat for each side)

Row 1: In MC slip stitch into first punch hole at side waist, chain 1, single crochet in remaining punch holes across side to bottom edge of apron, chain 2, turn.

Row 2: Double crochet in each single crochet across to end, chain 1, turn.

Row 3: Single crochet in each double crochet across to end. Fasten off.

 

Waistband

Row 1: In MC, make a 21” chain of stitches (creating apron tie). Join to waist at top left crochet border with a slip stitch, chain 1, place stitch marker, single crochet across top of waist to edge of right crochet border, place a stitch marker, chain 21” of stitches, turn, chain 2.

Row 2: Double crochet in each stitch across waistband to end. Fasten off.

Row 3: In CC, single crochet in every double crochet across waistband to end. Fasten off.

Row 4: In CC, join to top of waist, at stitch marker, with a slip stitch, chain 1, (3 double crochet) in the next single crochet, chain 1, *single crochet in the next 3 single crochet, chain 1, (3 double crochet) in the next single crochet, chain 1* repeat from * until stitch marker, end with a single crochet. Fasten off.

Bottom Hem
Row 1: In MC, slip stitch to right bottom crochet border, chain 1, single crochet across border and punch holes to edge of left bottom border, chain 2, turn.

Row 2: Double crochet in each single crochet across to end, chain 2, turn.

Row 3: Double crochet in each double crochet across to end. Fasten off.

Row 4: In CC slip stitch into first double crochet, chain 1, single crochet in each double crochet across, chain 1, turn.

Row 5: Single crochet in first single crochet, (3 double crochet) in the next single crochet, chain 1, *single
crochet in the next 3 single crochet, chain 1, (3 double crochet) in the next single crochet, chain 1* repeat from *until 2nd to last stitch, end row with a single crochet. Fasten off.

Row A: This row is crocheted into Row 1. With right side facing and waist edge at bottom, join CC with slip stitch to the first stitch of row 1 of bottom hem. Continue to work in row 1, single crochet across bottom hem in spaces of row 1. chain 1, turn.

Row B: Single crochet in the first stitch, (2 double crochet) in the next single crochet, *single crochet in the next 2 single crochet, (2 double crochet) in the next single crochet* repeat from * until 2nd to last stitch, end with a single crochet. Fasten off.

 

Pocket (Optional)

1. Draw out pocket pattern onto stiff paper or brown paper grocery bag (see technical sketch on the right for pattern measurements). Don’t worry about sketching out the pattern perfectly.

2. Place the pattern onto fused plastic sheet and trace with a pen. Cut the pocket out with scissors.

3. Punch holes around all sides of the pocket. Leave ¼” space between holes and ¼” from center of hole to edge of plastic. Don’t worry about having the same number of punch holes on both side of pocket.

4. After crocheting a border on pocket, decide where you want to place it on apron. Trace pocket sides and bottom on onto the skirt. Punch holes about ½” in from trace line.


Pocket Border

Rnd 1: In CC, slip stitch to punch hole in top right corner, chain 1, single crochet through every punch hole starting down the right side, join with slip stitch to first single crochet.

Rnd 2: Chain 1, single crochet in every single crochet, join with slip stitch to first single crochet.

Rnd 3: Chain 1, single crochet in every single crochet, join with slip stitch to first single crochet. Fasten off.

 

Finishing

Using a yarn needle and CC, stitch pocket to skirt through punch holes. Using a yarn needle, weave in all
loose ends.

 

Thank you to Amelia Strader from the Museum of Craft & Folk Art for sharing this project with us.

Fusing Plastic Bags | More How-Tuesday Posts | Aprons on Etsy

99 comments

  • aBreathofFrenchair

    aBreathofFrenchair said 9 years ago

    Neat aprons!

  • saintesmariesjewelry

    saintesmariesjewelry said 9 years ago

    Very cool project!!!! http://www.saintesmariesjewelry.etsy.com

  • CocoaBeans

    CocoaBeans said 9 years ago

    I do love that apron!

  • miachic

    miachic said 9 years ago

    love this article!

  • adrienneaudrey

    adrienneaudrey said 9 years ago

    Wow cool project!

  • rosebudshome

    rosebudshome said 9 years ago

    These aprons bring back so many wonderful memories. My Mother used to wear aprons all the time! They are beautiful!

  • manvsgeorge

    manvsgeorge said 9 years ago

    I love it! I'd just be afraid to use it because I'd hate to get it dirty! :-)

  • manvsgeorge

    manvsgeorge said 9 years ago

    (get the trim dirty, i mean...)

  • laurelinsailor

    laurelinsailor said 9 years ago

    Beatiful! If you're looking for cute apron, check out my shop.

  • SiamOriental

    SiamOriental said 9 years ago

    Very beautiful.

  • abfab74

    abfab74 said 9 years ago

    Okay, I am a jewelry girl and will not lie and say that I could even begin to put one of these together, but what a fun idea! I adore aprons, especially vintage ones, which is odd because I am not much of a cook, but I must get my hands on one of these. Great post!

  • pinkytoeclothing

    pinkytoeclothing said 9 years ago

    Fantastic!

  • breadandroses

    breadandroses said 9 years ago

    Fun recycling project but I wouldn't want the melted plastic odor in the house. I wear my cotton vintage inspired aprons everyday for utility and good looks. Aprons are wonderful!

  • pamwares

    pamwares said 9 years ago

    love aprons...that is why I make them in my free time!

  • candacejean

    candacejean said 9 years ago

    WOW.. that is so neat! How creative to come up with an apron like that. Thanks so much for the tutorial!

  • beautifulbridget

    beautifulbridget said 9 years ago

    How adorable!!

  • vixensnaturaljewelry

    vixensnaturaljewelry said 9 years ago

    How fun! Thanks!

  • JMCdesigns

    JMCdesigns said 9 years ago

    very cool!

  • Ebruk

    Ebruk said 9 years ago

    I love the article,thank you for sharing.

  • baconsquarefarm

    baconsquarefarm said 9 years ago

    HOw fun is this~ who would have thunk it plastic crochet, wait till I show the older woman at morning coffee. Nice aprons very unique. Thanks for sharing.

  • TanyaMac

    TanyaMac said 9 years ago

    Ooh wipe clean! I like it ;D

  • ArzuMusa

    ArzuMusa said 9 years ago

    Very beautiful... Fun project... Thank you for sharing..

  • honeysweet

    honeysweet said 9 years ago

    great idea! I was just thinking the other day that it would be nice to have an apron made from fused plastic bags! just wipe it off and go. The only disadvantage would be that you wouldn't have a place to wipe your hands really. I love your design -- very retro-chic.

  • MyissaG

    MyissaG said 9 years ago

    What a cute apron :)

  • petragalvan

    petragalvan said 9 years ago

    I love tutorials.

  • sharonclancydesigns

    sharonclancydesigns said 9 years ago

    Love this, so cool!

  • Ayca

    Ayca said 9 years ago

    Cool tutorials , i love apron :)

  • ShaneLilyRain

    ShaneLilyRain said 9 years ago

    LOVE THIS !!!!!

  • BoutiqueDeBandeaux

    BoutiqueDeBandeaux said 9 years ago

    Awesome! I've always wanted a cute apron, but you don't see many of them in plus sizes. Now I can just make my own =D

  • anticovalore

    anticovalore said 9 years ago

    i love this!!

  • Marang97

    Marang97 said 9 years ago

    This looks fun!! I'm gonna have to try this! Thanks!

  • eroa

    eroa said 9 years ago

    very cool. i might try it. thank you for sharing.

  • Talula

    Talula said 9 years ago

    I have some FABULOUS aprons, all made from vintage fabrics, ball trim, and ribbon. I wear them over a t-shirt with my jeans & cowboy boots and use the deep front pockets like a modern day "fanny pack"! It's a funky look, and I don't have to carry a purse! :)

  • Talula

    Talula said 9 years ago

    I wear my aprons, made from vintage tablecloths, ball fringe & ribbon, over a t-shirt & jeans. I use the deep pockets to carry my keys, phone, etc... So I don't have to carry a purse! It's a great funky look!

  • lovelygifts

    lovelygifts said 9 years ago

    Cute apron!

  • FamaraDesigns

    FamaraDesigns said 9 years ago

    Wow. Very Good idea. Thank for share it with us :)

  • FamaraDesigns

    FamaraDesigns said 9 years ago

    Wow. Very Good idea. Thanks for Share it with us :)

  • monocotoleydon

    monocotoleydon said 9 years ago

    That's awesome ... warmer weather will have me trying this out in the driveway with an extension cord out the window!

  • auntmarthasattic

    auntmarthasattic said 9 years ago

    wow... who would have thought you could make something so beautiful from a plastic bag! I thought they were only good for catching in bushes on a windy day! great idea!

  • Laurasbox

    Laurasbox said 9 years ago

    WOW. Made with plastic bag? Love it ♥

  • craftscafe

    craftscafe said 9 years ago

    This looks really fun! I love upcycling & repurposing: http://craftscafe.wordpress.com/2010/01/23/something-old-something-ne/ I'm working on a necklace now that repurposes a beautiful floral vintage shirt at the moment... But the apron offers so many creative opportunities!

  • AnniesWearableArt

    AnniesWearableArt said 9 years ago

    What a wonderful project!!! Thank you for sharing your finesse and talent with everyone, Amelia!

  • Mattamorphis

    Mattamorphis said 9 years ago

    I like to use vintage dresses as aprons. Especially 80's Bob Mackies!

  • girltuesdayjewelry

    girltuesdayjewelry said 9 years ago

    WOW! What a creative use of plastic bags! just amazing!

  • ChainofDestiny

    ChainofDestiny said 9 years ago

    I have a love for unique and pretty aprons. Thanks for sharing!

  • HoneysuckleLane

    HoneysuckleLane said 9 years ago

    That's an adorable project! My mom always wore an apron while cooking, though not quite like this one. Thanks for sharing! :)

  • phoenixartstudio

    phoenixartstudio said 9 years ago

    interesting idea! Especially using the plastic bags. I recently bought an "upcycled apron" but it was using old sweaters for the pockets and trim.

  • NutfieldWeaver

    NutfieldWeaver said 9 years ago

    How fun is this. I'm curious -- how does the item do in a washing machine?

  • JanuaryJaniesJewelry

    JanuaryJaniesJewelry said 9 years ago

    Really Neat!

  • RoughMagicCreations

    RoughMagicCreations said 9 years ago

    I LOVE the idea of repurposing/recycling plastic bags to create something so beautiful and functional! Thanks so much for the how-to!

  • DapperPaper

    DapperPaper said 9 years ago

    Cool project! I love cute aprons but need to get over the fear of messing them up, that's the point i guess! :)

  • bylynnkrestel

    bylynnkrestel said 9 years ago

    ok - i would just love to know who figures this stuff out!! fusing those horrid plastic bags - and an apron -they're great!! love it! thanks for sharing!

  • thecraftpantry

    thecraftpantry said 9 years ago

    Fuuuuun!!! I wanna try!

  • rosebudbeads

    rosebudbeads said 9 years ago

    Great use of materials!

  • WoollyPoPo

    WoollyPoPo said 9 years ago

    "Plarn!" Who knew? Looking at the picture, I had no idea the apron was made out of old plastic bags!

  • nowonder

    nowonder said 9 years ago

    Beautiful! will try it - thank you!

  • maggiemaevintage

    maggiemaevintage said 9 years ago

    pretty aprons, almost makes me want to start wearing them again.

  • MinceCo

    MinceCo said 9 years ago

    aw sweet, I'm gonna try this, thanks

  • lifeofcolors

    lifeofcolors said 9 years ago

    Wow, plastic bag aprons! :-)

  • designlab443

    designlab443 said 9 years ago

    fun stuff!

  • thewhimsytrove

    thewhimsytrove said 9 years ago

    Plarn! That's hilarious. One question though: when fusing plastic bags aren't you creating a toxic emission of some sort?

  • thewhimsytrove

    thewhimsytrove said 9 years ago

    Now I'm obsessing on the word "plarn". I blame some clever grrl on Twitter, who referred to a vegan Parmesan cheese she tried as "Deceptiparm".

  • bellasparty

    bellasparty said 9 years ago

    Fun project!

  • artofjane

    artofjane said 9 years ago

    Do you have to worry about it melting if it gets to close to the heat in your kitchen?

  • ChristiesStuff

    ChristiesStuff said 9 years ago

    How Fun! Now, if we could get some decent weather so I can iron plastic OUTSIDE! Still dreaming...

  • mykonos

    mykonos said 9 years ago

    oh, will try to make one!!

  • CatzillaCrafts

    CatzillaCrafts said 9 years ago

    I used to sell recycled plastic bag purses and zipper pouches. I have tons and tons of saved up plastic bags, I need to get back into making those! And the apron wouldn't melt unless it falls inside the oven or touches a burner. It's not that sensitive to heat. =^_^=

  • murandabarker

    murandabarker said 9 years ago

    oh my gosh....i love this!

  • FloweryDeer

    FloweryDeer said 9 years ago

    Cute aprons! Loves the "Shabby Chic Half Apron " in particular. http://www.flowerydeer.etsy.com

  • CuriousSparrow

    CuriousSparrow said 9 years ago

    Fun project! www.curioussparrow.etsy.com

  • ScienceKitty

    ScienceKitty said 9 years ago

    adorable

  • SolderingSisters

    SolderingSisters said 9 years ago

    Great idea! We loved it!

  • RedRobinArt

    RedRobinArt said 9 years ago

    Amelia! Thanks for sharing this great tutorial! It makes me want to try this one for sure! I love it! It's a perfect way to recycle all those plastic bags into a new art form. All the others are just precious and that Shaby Chic Half Apron is so cute too. Perfect for Spring. Don't you just love big floppy aprons with deep pockets,no matter what's in style! My Mamma always wore one and it usually was covered in biscuit flour! Thanks again, I'll try it!

  • diannek

    diannek said 9 years ago

    Wonderful tutorial, but I have been wearing aprons for years, so practical, pretty and I love making them. Made one for my son in law when he set fire to his bbq, the apron is black with flames rising up the side with the words "Come on Baby Light My Fire" he loves it.

  • animadesign

    animadesign said 9 years ago

    Thank you Amelia for your interesting tutorial. Most of all the stage , which gives me some ideas!!! Take a look at my trendy APRONS at http://www.animadesign.etsy.com I'll appreciate your comments...

  • artbrain

    artbrain said 9 years ago

    What a great way to up-cycle plastic bags! Thanks Amelia.

  • aisle3studio

    aisle3studio said 9 years ago

    i can't sew. but i appreciate those who can. these are perty : )

  • poppyswickedgarden

    poppyswickedgarden said 9 years ago

    What a fun Idea! Everyone has plastic bags laying around too:) We use upcycled fabric for most aprons in our other shop too:)

  • MonkeyCatBoutique

    MonkeyCatBoutique said 9 years ago

    very cute!

  • polkadotscloud

    polkadotscloud said 9 years ago

    interesting :)

  • ShebboDesign

    ShebboDesign said 9 years ago

    waw, very nice -fun project! thnx for sharing!

  • ClementinesJewelry

    ClementinesJewelry said 9 years ago

    so cool and fun!

  • CavemanPottery

    CavemanPottery said 9 years ago

    Loved the idea and cute aprons!

  • parasolproject

    parasolproject said 9 years ago

    cute cute cute!!!

  • recycledwares

    recycledwares said 9 years ago

    Thanks for showing us how to make such a cute apron. I am so excited that this apron is made of plastic bags which are everywhere and fill the landfills everywhere. I thought it was fabric at first. And...I didn't know that you could fuse plastic together - YEAH!! The fusing gives me so many other ideas.

  • samsstuff

    samsstuff said 9 years ago

    So cute! Thanks for posting this adorable project.

  • petitefish

    petitefish said 9 years ago

    Unbelievably creative! Mind-blowing use of upcycling!

  • virginiakraljevic

    virginiakraljevic said 9 years ago

    I shall never throw away a plastic bag again!

  • gallery32

    gallery32 said 9 years ago

    So pretty. I actually might try to make one of those. Plus the plastic can just be wiped off!

  • ImagineMDD

    ImagineMDD said 9 years ago

    What a great idea. Upcycling and recycling. I collect vintage aprons and love this idea.

  • Divadezines

    Divadezines said 9 years ago

    Gotta have one [or three]of those.

  • Divadezines

    Divadezines said 9 years ago

    Gotta have one or three of those aprons. Thanks

  • Circlesque

    Circlesque said 9 years ago

    Very unique.Can,t wait to make me one.

  • HazelHoney

    HazelHoney said 9 years ago

    Just attended the lab! Got me totally inspired to try plarn projects! The apron is so cute at the top of the page! Wow you would never imagine it was made from plastic bags! Amelia explains projects so well Thanks!!!

  • auntcarriesattic

    auntcarriesattic said 9 years ago

    I never cease to be amazed at the creativity out there. Thanks for stretching my brain!

  • HouseofMacabre

    HouseofMacabre said 9 years ago

    What a fantastic idea for recycling. I can't wait to show this to my daughter !

  • TheShabbyPinkCottage

    TheShabbyPinkCottage said 9 years ago

    I love making aprons for my mom. Thanks

  • aldan

    aldan said 9 years ago

    Wow you have suggested a real innovative way for stitching the apron. I real felt its easy as well as a faster one to stitch the apron. Thanks!

  • 15 More Upcycled Crochet and Recycled Yarn Ideas | said 4 years ago

    […] Plastic and paper bags upcycled with crochet to make an apron – tutorial on Etsy blog […]

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